Monday, July 22, 2019

How Total Deployment Intelligence Overcomes the Growing Complexity of Multicloud Management

A discussion on how new tools, processes, and methods bring insights and actionable analysis to help regain control over hybrid cloud and multicloud sprawl.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to the next edition of the BriefingsDirect Voice of the Innovator podcast series. I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host and moderator for this ongoing discussion on the latest in IT innovation.

Our next discussion focuses on the growing complexity around multicloud management. We will now explore how greater accountability is needed to improve business impacts from all-too-common haphazard cloud adoption.

Stay with us as we hear how new tools, processes, and methods are bringing insights and actionable analysis to help regain control over hybrid cloud and multicloud sprawl.

Here to help us explore a more pragmatic path to modern IT deployment management is Harsh Singh, Director of Product Management for Hybrid Cloud Products and Solutions at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). Welcome to BriefingsDirect, Harsh.

Harsh Singh: Thanks a lot, Dana. I’m happy to be here.

Gardner: What is driving the need for multicloud at all? Why are people choosing multiple clouds and deployments?

Singh: That’s a very interesting question, especially today. However, you have to step back and think about why people went to the cloud in the first place – and what were the drivers – to understand how sprawl expanded to a multicloud environment.

Initially, when people began moving to public cloud services, the idea was speed, agility, and quick access to resources. IT was in the way for gaining on-premises resources. People said, “Let me get the work going and let me deploy things faster.”

And they were able to quickly launch applications, and this increased their velocity and time-to-market. Cloud helped them get there very fast. However, as we now get choices of multicloud environments, where you have various public cloud environments, you also now have private cloud environments where people can do similar things on-premises. There came a time when people realized, “Oh, certain applications fit in certain places better than others.”

From cloud sprawl to cloud smart

For example, if I want to run a serverless environment, I might want to run in one cloud provider versus another. But if I want to run more machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) kinds of functionality, I might want to run that somewhere else. And if I have a big data requirement, with a lot of data to crunch, I might want to run that on-premises.

So you now have more choices to make. People are thinking about where’s the best place to run their applications. And that’s where multicloud comes in. However, this doesn’t come for free, right?
How to Determine
Ideal Workload Placement
As you add more cloud environments and different tools, it leads to what we call tool sprawl. You now have people tying all of these tools together trying to figure out the cost of these different environments. Are they in compliance with the various norms we have within our organization? Now it becomes very complex very fast. It becomes a management problem in terms of, “How do I manage all of these environments together?”

Gardner: It’s become too much of a good thing. There are very good reasons to do cloud, hybrid cloud, and multicloud. But there hasn’t been a rationalization about how to go about it in an organizational way that’s in the best interest of the overall business. It seems like a rethinking of how we go about deploying IT in general needs to be part of it.
Singh: Absolutely right. I see three pillars that need to be addressed in terms of looking at this complexity and managing it well. Those are people, process, and technology. Technology exists, but unfortunately, unless you have the right skill set in the people -- and you have the right processes in place -- it’s going to be the Wild West. Everything is just going to be crazy. At the end you falter, not achieving what you really want to achieve.

I look at people, process, and technology as the three pillars of this tool sprawl, which is absolutely necessary for any company as they traverse their multicloud journey.

Gardner: This is a long-term, thorny problem. And it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better.

Singh: I do see it getting worse, but I also see a lot of people beginning to address these problems. Vendors, including we at HPE, are looking at this problem. We are trying to get ahead of it before a lot of enterprises crash and burn. We have experience with our customers, and we have engaged with them to help them on this journey.
You must deploy the applications to the right places that are right for your business -- whether it's multicloud or hybrid cloud. At the end of the day, you have to manage multiple environments.

It is going to get worse and people are going to realize that they need professional help. It requires that we work with these customers very closely and take them along based on what we have experienced together.

Gardner: Are you taking the approach that the solution for hybrid cloud management and multicloud management can be done in the same way? Or are they fundamentally different?

Singh: Fundamentally, it’s the same problem set. You must deploy the applications to the right places that are right for your business -- whether it’s multicloud or hybrid cloud. Sometimes the terminology blurs. But at the end of the day, you have to manage multiple environments.

You may be connecting private or off-premises hybrid clouds, and maybe there are different clouds. The problem will be the same -- you have multiple tools, multiple environments, and the people need training and the processes need to be in place for them to operate properly.

Gardner: What makes me optimistic about the solution is there might be a fourth leg on that stool. People, process, and technology, yes, but I think there is also economics. One of the things that really motivates a business to change is when money is being lost and the business people think there is a way to resolve that.

The economics issue -- about cost overruns and a lack of discipline around procurement – is both a part of the problem and the solution.

Economics elevates visibility

Singh: I am laughing right now because I have talked to so many customers about this.  A CIO from an entertainment media company, for example, recently told me she had a problem. They had a cloud-first strategy, but they didn’t look at the economics piece of it. She didn’t realize, she told me, where their virtual machines (VMs) and workloads were running.

“At the end of the month, I’m seeing hundreds of thousands of dollars in bills. I am being surprised by all of this stuff,” she said. “I don’t even know whether they are in compliance. The overhead of these costs -- I don’t know how to get a handle on it.”

So this is a real problem that customers are facing. I have heard this again and again: They don’t have visibility into the environment. They don’t know what’s being utilized. Sometimes they are underutilized, sometimes they are over utilized. And they don’t know what they are going to end up paying at the end of the day.
A common example is, in a public cloud, people will launch a very large number of VMs because that’s what they are used to doing. But they consume maybe 10 to 20 percent of that. What they don’t realize is that they are paying for the whole bill. More visibility is going to become key to getting a handle on the economics of these things.

Gardner: We have seen these kinds of problems before in general business procurement. Many times it’s the Wild West, but then they bring it under control. Then they can negotiate better rates as they combine services and look for redundancies. But you can’t do that until you know what you’re using and how it costs.

So, is the first step getting an inventory of where your cloud deployments are, what the true costs are, and then start to rationalize them?

Guardrails reduce risk, increase innovation

Singh: Absolutely, right. That’s where you start, and at HPE we have services to do that. The first thing is to understand where you are. Get a base level of what is on-premises, what is off-premises, and which applications are required to run where. What’s the footprint that I require in these different places? What is the overall cost I’m incurring, and where do I want to be? Answering those questions is the first step to getting a mixed environment you can control -- and get away from the Wild West.

Put in the compliance guardrails so that IT is again looking at avoiding the problems we are seeing today.

Gardner: As a counterpoint, I don’t think that IT wants to be perceived as the big bad killjoy that comes to the data scientists and says, “You can’t get those clusters to support the data environment that you want.” So how do you balance that need for governance, security, and cost control with not stifling innovation and allowing creative freedom?
How to Transform
The Traditional Datacenter
Singh: That’s a very good question. When we started building out our managed cloud solutions, a key criterion was to provide the guardrails yet not stifle innovation for the line of business managers and developers. The way you do that is that you don’t become the man in the middle. The idea is you allow the line of businesses and developers to access the resources they need. However, you put guardrails around which resources they can access, how much they can access, and you provide visibility into the budgets. You still let them access the direct APIs of the different multicloud environments.

You don’t say, “Hey, you have to put in a request to us to do these things.” You have to be more behind-the-scenes, hidden from view. At the same time, you need to provide those budgets and those controls. Then they can perform their tasks at the speed they want and access to the resources that they need -- but within the guardrails, compliance, and the business requirements that IT has.

Gardner: Now that HPE has been on the vanguard of creating the tools and methods to get the necessary insights, make the measurements, recognize the need for balance between control and innovation -- have you noticed changes in organizational patterns? Are there now centers of cloud excellence or cloud-management bureaus? Does there need to be a counterpart to the tools, of management structure changes as well?

Automate, yet hold hands, too

Singh: This is the process and the people parts that you want to address. How do you align your organizations, and what are the things that you need to do there? Some of our customers are beginning to make those changes, but organizations are difficult to change to get on this journey. Some of them are early; some of them are at much later stage. A lot of the customers frankly are still in the early phases of multicloud and hybrid cloud. We are working with them to make sure they understand the changes they’ll need to make in order to function properly in this new world.

Gardner: Unfortunately, these new requirements come at a time when cloud management skills -- of understanding data and ops, IT and ops, and cloud and ops -- are hard to find and harder to keep. So one of the things I’m seeing is the adoption of automation around guidance, strategy, and analysis. The systems start to do more for you. Tell me how automation is coming to bear on some of these problems, and perhaps mitigate the skill shortage issues.

Singh: The tools can only do so much. So you automate. You make sure the infrastructure is automated. You make sure your access to public cloud -- or any other cloud environment -- is automated.

That can mitigate some of the problems, but I still see a need for hand-holding from time to time in terms of the process and people. That will still be required. Automation will help tie in a storage network, and compute, and you can put all of that together. This [composability] reduces the need and dependency on some of the process and people. Automation mitigates the physical labor and the need for someone to take days to do it. However, you need that expertise to understand what needs to be done. And this is where HPE is helping.
Automation will help tie in a storage network and compute, and you can put all of that together. Composability reduces the need and dependency on some of the process and the people. Automation mitigates the physical labor and the need for someone to take days to do it.

You might have heard about our HPE GreenLake managed cloud services offerings. We are moving toward an as-a-service model for a lot of our software and tooling. We are using the automation to help customers fill the expertise gap. We can offer more of a managed service by using automation tools underneath it to make our tasks easier. At the end of the day, the customer only sees an outcome or an experience -- versus worrying about the details of how these things work.

Gardner: Let’s get back to the problem of multicloud management. Why can't you just use the tools that the cloud providers themselves provide? Maybe you might have deployments across multiple clouds, but why can’t you use the tools from one to manage more? Why do we need a neutral third-party position for this?

Singh: Take a hypothetical case: I have deployments in Amazon Web Services (AWS) and I have deployments in Google Cloud Platform (GCP). And to make things more complicated, I have some workloads on premises as well. How would I go about tying these things together?

Now, if I go to AWS, they are very, very opinionated on AWS services. They have no interest in looking at builds coming out of GCP or Microsoft Azure. They are focused on their services and what they are delivering. The reality is, however, that customers are using these different environments for different things.

The multiple public cloud providers don’t have an interest in managing other clouds or to look at other environments. So third parties come in to tie everything together, and no one customer is locked into one environment.

If they go to AWS, for example, they can only look at billing, services, and performance metrics of that one service. And they do a very good job. Each one of these cloud guys does a very good job of exposing their own services and providing you visibility into their own services. But they don’t tie it across multiple environments. And especially if you throw the on-premises piece into the mix, it’s very difficult to look at and compare costs across these multiple environments.

Gardner: When we talk about on-premises, we are not just talking about the difference between your data center and a cloud provider’s data center. We are also taking about the difference between a traditional IT environment and the IT management tools that came out of that. How has HPE crossed the chasm between a traditional IT management automation and composability types of benefits and the higher-level, multicloud management?

Tying worlds together

Singh: It’s a struggle to tie these worlds together from my experience, and I have been doing this for some time. I have seen customers spend months and sometimes years, putting together a solution from various vendors, tying them together, and deploying something on premises and also trying to tie that to an off-premises environment.

At HPE, we fundamentally changed how on-premises and off-premises environments are managed by introducing our own SaaS management environment, which customers do not have to manage. Such a Software as a Service (SaaS) environment, a portal, connects on-premises environments. Since we have a native, programmable, API-driven infrastructure, we were able to connect that. And being able to drive it from the cloud itself made it very easy to hook up to other cloud providers like AWS, Azure, and GCP. This capability ties the two worlds together. As you build out the tools, the key is understanding automation on the infrastructure piece, and how can you connect and manage this from a centralized portal that ties all these things together with a click.

Through this common portal, people can onboard their multicloud environments, get visibility into their costs, get visibility into compliance -- look at whether they are HIPAA compliant or not, PCI compliant or not -- and get access to resources that allow them to begin to manage these environments.
How to Better Manage
Hybrid and Multicloud Economics
For example, onboarding into any public cloud is very, very complex. Setting up a private cloud is very complex. But today, with the software that we are building, and some of our customers are using, we can set up a private cloud environment for people within hours. All you have to do is connect with our tools like HPE OneView and other things that we have built for the infrastructure and automation pieces. You then tie that together to a public cloud-facing tenant portal and onboard that with a few clicks. We can connect with their public cloud accounts and give them visibility into their complete environment.

And then we can bring in cost analytics. We have consumption analytics as part of our HPE GreenLake offering, which allows us to look at cost for on-premises as well as off-premises resources. You can get a dashboard that shows you what you are consuming and where.

Gardner: That level of management and the capability to be distributed across all these different deployment models strikes me as a gift that could keep on giving. Once you have accomplished this and get control over your costs, you are next able to rationalize what cloud providers to use for which types of workloads. It strikes me that you can then also use that same management and insight to start to actually move things around based on a dynamic or even algorithmic basis. You can get cost optimization on the fly. You can react to market forces and dynamics in terms of demand on your servers or on your virtual machines anywhere.

Are you going to be able to accelerate the capability for people to move their fungible workloads across different clouds, both hybrid and multicloud?

Optimizing for the future

Singh: Yes, absolutely right. There is more complexity in terms of moving workloads here and there, because there is data proximity requirements and various other requirements. But the optimization piece is absolutely something we can do on the fly, especially if you start throwing AI into the mix.

You will be learning over time what needs to be deployed where, and where your data gravity might be, and where you need applications closer to the data. Sometimes it’s here, sometimes it’s there. You might have edge environments that you might want to manage from this common portal, too. All that can be brought together.

And then with those insights, you can make optimization decisions: “Hey, this application is best deployed in this location for these reasons.” You can even automate that. You can make that policy-driven.

Think about it this way -- you are a person who wants to deploy something. You request a resource, and that gets deployed for you based on the algorithm that has already decided where the optimal place to put it is. All of that works behind the scenes without you having to really think about it. That’s the world we are headed to.

Gardner: We have talked about some really interesting subjects at a high level, even some thought leadership involved. But are there any concrete examples that illustrate how companies are already starting to do this? What kinds of benefits do they get?

Singh: I won’t name the company, but there was a business in the UK that was able to deploy VMs within minutes on their on-premises environment, as well as gain cost benefits out of their AWS deployments.
We were able to go in, connect to their VMware environment, and allow them to deploy VMs. We were up and running in two hours. Then they could optimize for their developers to deploy VMs. They saved 40 percent in operational efficiency. They gained self-service access.

We were able to go in, connect to their VMware environment, in this case, and allow them to deploy VMs. We were up and running in two hours. Then they could optimize for their developers to deploy VMs and request resources in that environment. They saved 40 percent in operational efficiency. So now they were mostly cost optimized, their IT team was less pressured to go and launch VMs for their developers, and they gained direct self-service access through which they could go and deploy VMs and other resources on-premises.

At the same time, IT had the visibility into what was being deployed in the public cloud environments. They could then optimize those environments for the size of the VMs and assets they were running there and gain some cost advantages there as well.
How to Solve Cost and Utilization
Challenges of Hybrid Cloud
Gardner: For organizations that recognize they have a sprawl problem when it comes to cloud, that their costs are not being optimized, but that they are still needing to go about this at sort of a crawl, walk, run level -- what should they be doing to put themselves in an advantageous position to be able to take advantage of these tools?

Are there any precursor activities that companies should be thinking about to get control over their clouds, and then be able to better leverage these tools when the time comes?

Watch your clouds

Singh: Start with visibility. You need an inventory of what you are doing. And then you need to ask the question, “Why?” What benefit are you getting from these different environments? Ask that question, and then begin to optimize. I am sure there are very good reasons for using multicloud environments, and many customers do. I have seen many customers use it, and for the right reasons.

However, there are other people who have struggled because there was no governance and guardrails around this. There were no processes in place. They truly got into a sprawled environment, and they didn’t know what they didn’t know.

So first and foremost, get an idea of what you want to do and where you are today -- get a baseline. And then, understand the impact and what are the levers to the cost. What are the drivers to the efficiencies? Make sure you understand the people and process -- more than the technology, because the technology does exist, but you need to make sure that your people and process are aligned.

And then lastly, call me. My phone is open. I am happy to have a talk with any customer that wants to have a talk.

Gardner: On that note of the personal approach, people who are passionate in an organization around things like efficiency and cost control are looking for innovation. Where do you see the innovation taking place for cloud management? Is it the IT Ops people, the finance people, maybe procurement? Where is the innovative thinking around cloud sprawl manifesting itself?

Singh: All three are good places for innovation. I see IT Ops at the center of the innovation. They are the ones who will be effecting change.

Finance and procurement, they could benefit from these changes, and they could be drivers of the requirements. They are going to be saying, ‘I need to do this differently because it doesn’t work for me.” And the innovation also comes from developers and line of businesses managers who have been doing this for a while and who understand what they really need.

Gardner: I’m afraid we’ll have to leave it there. We have been exploring the growing complexity around multicloud management and how greater accountability is needed around costs and business impacts due to what is all too often haphazard cloud adoption.
How to Achieve Composability
Across Your Datacenter
And we have learned about new tools, processes, and methods that bring additional insights, visibility, and ultimately actionable analysis to help regain control over multicloud sprawl.

So please join me in thanking our guest, Harsh Singh, Director of Product Management for Hybrid Cloud Products and Solutions at HPE. Thank you, Harsh.

Singh: Thank you very much, Dana. It was a pleasure.

Gardner: And a big thank you as well to our audience for joining us for this BriefingsDirect Voice of the Innovator interview. I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host for this ongoing series of Hewlett Packard Enterprise-sponsored discussions.

Thanks again for listening! Please pass this along to your IT community, and do come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

A discussion on how new tools, processes, and methods bring insights and actionable analysis to help regain control over hybrid cloud and multicloud sprawl. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2019. All rights reserved.

You may also be interested in:

Monday, July 15, 2019

How an Agile Focus for Enterprise Architects Builds Competitive Advantage in the Digital Transformation Age

Transcript of a panel discussion on how Enterprise Architects should embrace agile approaches to build more competitive advantage for their companies.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: The Open Group.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you’re listening to BriefingsDirect. Our next business trends discussion explores the reinforcing nature of Enterprise Architecture (EA) and agile methods.

We’ll now learn how Enterprise Architects can embrace agile approaches to build competitive advantages for their companies. To learn more about retraining and rethinking for EA in the Digital Transformation (DT) era, we are now joined by Ryan Schmierer, Director of Operations at Sparx Services North America. Welcome, Ryan.

Ryan Schmierer: Thanks, Dana.

Gardner: We are also joined by Chris Armstrong, President at Sparx Services North America. Welcome, Chris.

Chris Armstrong: How are you, Dana?

Gardner: I’m great, thanks. Ryan, what's happening in business now that’s forcing a new emphasis for Enterprise Architects? Why should Enterprise Architects do things any differently than they have in the past?

Schmierer: The biggest thing happening in the industry right now is around DT. We been hearing about DT for the last couple of years and most companies have embarked on some sort of a DT initiative, modernizing their business processes.

But now companies are looking beyond the initial transformation and asking, “What’s next?” We are seeing them focus on real-time, data-driven decision-making, with the ultimate goal of enterprise business agility -- the capability for the enterprise to be aware of its environments, respond to changes, and adapt quickly.

For Enterprise Architects, that means learning how to be agile both in the work they do as individuals and how they approach architecture for their organizations. It’s not about making architectures that will last forever, but architectures that are nimble, agile, and adapt to change.

Gardner: Ryan, we have heard the word, agile, used in a structured way when it comes to software development -- Agile methodologies, for example. Are we talking about the same thing? How are they related?

Agile, adaptive enterprise advances 

Schmierer: It’s the same concept. The idea is that you want to deliver results quickly, learn from what works, adapt, change, and evolve. It’s the same approach used in software development over the last few years. Look at how you develop software that delivers value quickly. We are now applying those same concepts in other contexts.

First is at the enterprise level. We look at how the business evolves quickly, learn from mistakes, and adapt the changes back into the environment.

Second, in the architecture domain, instead of waiting months or quarters to develop an architecture, vision, and roadmap, how do we start small, iterate, deliver quickly, accelerate time-to-value, and refine it as we go?

Gardner: Many businesses want DT, but far fewer of them seem to know how to get there. How does the role of the Enterprise Architect fit into helping companies attain DT?
The core job responsibility for Enterprise Architects is to be an extension of the company leadership and its executives. They need to look at where a company is trying to go ... and develop a roadmap on how to get there.

Schmierer: The core job responsibility for Enterprise Architects is to be an extension of company leadership and its executives. They need to look at where a company is trying to go, all the different pieces that need to be addressed to get there, establish a future-state vision, and then develop a roadmap on how to get there.

This is what company leadership is trying to do. The EA is there to help them figure out how to do that. As the executives look outward and forward, the Enterprise Architect figures out how to deliver on the vision.

Gardner: Chris, tools and frameworks are only part of the solution. It’s also about the people and the process. There's the need for training and best practices. How should people attain this emphasis for EA in that holistic definition?

Change is good 

Armstrong: We want to take a step back and look at how Ryan was describing the elevation of value propositions and best practices that seem to be working for agile solution delivery. How might that work for delivering continual, regular value? One of the major attributes, in our experience, of the goodness of any architecture, is based on how well it responds to change.

In some ways, agile and EA are synonyms. If you’re doing good Enterprise Architecture, you must be agile because responding to change is one of those quality attributes. That’s a part of the traditional approach of architecture – to be concerned with the interoperability and integration.

As it relates to the techniques, tools, and frameworks we want to exploit -- the experiences that we have had in the past – we try to push those forward into more of an operating model for Enterprise Architects and how they engage with the rest of the organization.
Learn About Agile Architecture
At The Open Group July Denver Event
So not starting from scratch, but trying to embrace the concept of reuse, particularly reuse of knowledge and information. It’s a good best practice, obviously. That's why in 2019 you certainly don't want to be inventing your own architecture method or your own architecture framework, even though there may be various reasons to adapt them to your environment.

Starting with things like the TOGAF® Framework, particularly its Architecture Development Method (ADM) and reference models -- those are there for individuals or vertical industries to accelerate the adding of value.

The challenge I've seen for a lot of architecture teams is they get sucked into the methodology and the framework, the semantics and concepts, and spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to do things with the tools. What we want to think about is how to enable the architecture profession in the same way we enable other people do their jobs -- with instant-on service offerings, using modern common platforms, and the industry frameworks that are already out there.
We are seeing people more focused on not just what the framework is but helping to apply it to close that feedback loop. The TOGAF standard, a standard of The Open Group, makes perfect sense, but people often struggle with, “Well, how do I make this real in my organization?”

Partnering with organizations that have had that kind of experience helps close that gap and accelerates the use in a valuable fashion. It’s pretty important.

Gardner: It’s ironic that I've heard of recent instances where Enterprise Architects are being laid off. But it sounds increasingly like the role is a keystone to DT. What's the mismatch there, Chris? Why do we see in some cases the EA position being undervalued, even though it seems critical?

EA here to stay 

Armstrong: You have identified something that has happened multiple times. Pendulum swings happen in our industry, particularly when there is a lot of change going on. People are getting a little conservative. We’ve seen this before in the context of fiscal downturns in economic climates.

But to me, it really points to the irony of what we perceive in the architecture profession based on successes that we have had. Enterprise Architecture is an essential part of running your business. But if executives don't believe that and have not experienced that then it’s not surprising when there's an opportunity to make changes in investment priorities that Enterprise Architecture might not be at the top of the list.

We need to be mindful of where we are in time with the architecture profession. A lot of organizations struggle with the glass ceiling of Enterprise Architecture. It’s something we have encountered pretty regularly, where executives are, “I really don’t get what this EA thing is, and what's in it for me? Why should I give you my support and resources?”
Learn About Agile Architecture
At The Open Group July Denver Event
But what’s interesting about that, of course, is if you take a step back you don’t see executives saying the same thing about human resources or accounting. Not to suggest that they aren’t thinking about ways to optimize those as a core competency or as strategic. We still do have an issue with acceptance of enterprise architecture based on the educational and developmental experiences a lot of executives have had.

We’re very hopeful that that trend is going to be moving in a different direction, particularly as relates to new master’s programs and doctorate programs, for example, in the Enterprise Architecture field. Those elevate and legitimize Enterprise Architecture as a profession. When people are going through an MBA program, they will have heard of enterprise architecture as an essential part of delivering upon strategy.

Gardner: Ryan, looking at what prevents companies from attaining DT, what are the major challenges? What’s holding up enterprises from getting used to real-time data, gaining agility, and using intelligence about how they do things?

Schmierer: There are a couple of things going on. One of them ties back to what Chris was just talking about -- the role of Enterprise Architects, and the role of architects in general. DT requires a shift in the relationship between business and IT. With DT, business functions and IT functions become entirely and holistically integrated and inseparable.

When there are no separate IT processes and no businesses process -- there are just processes because the two are intertwined. As we use more real-time data and as we leverage Enterprise Architecture, how do we move beyond the traditional relationship between business and IT? How do we look at such functions as data management and data architecture? How do we bring them into an integrated conversation with the folks who were part of the business and IT teams of the past?

A good example of how companies can do this comes in a recent release from The Open Group, the Digital Practitioner Body of Knowledge™ (DPBoK™). It says that there's a core skill set that is general and describes what it means to be such a practitioner in the digital era, regardless of your job role or focus. It says we need to classify job roles more holistically and that everyone needs to have both a business mindset and a set of technical skills. We need to bring those together, and that's really important.
As we look at what's holding up DT we need to take functions that were once considered centralized assets like EA and data management and bring them into the forefront. ... Enterprise Architects need to be living in the present.

As we look at what's holding up DT -- taking the next step to real-time data, broadening the scope of DT – we need to take functions that were once considered centralized assets, like EA and data management, and bring them into the forefront, and say, “You know what? You’re part of the digital transmission story as well. You’re key to bringing us along to the next stage of this journey, which is looking at how to optimize, bring in the data, and use it more effectively. How do we leverage technology in new ways?”

The second thing we need to improve is the mindset. It’s particularly an issue with Enterprise Architects right now. And it is that Enterprise Architects -- and everyone in digital professions -- need to be living in the present.

You asked why some EAs are getting laid off. Why is that? Think about how they approach their job in terms of the questions that would be asked in a performance review.

Those might be, “What have you done for me over the years?” If your answer focuses on what you did in the past, you are probably going to get laid off. What you did in the past is great, but the company is operating in the present.

What’s your grand idea for the future? Some ideal situation? Well, that’s probably going to get you shoved in a corner some place and probably eventually laid off because companies don't know what the future is going to bring. They may have some idea of where they want to get to, but they can’t articulate a 5- to 10-year vision because the environment changes so quickly.

What have you done for me lately? That’s a favorite thing to ask in performance-review discussions. You got your paycheck because you did your job over the last six months. That’s what companies care about, and yet that’s not what Enterprise Architects should be supporting.

Instead, the EA emphasis should be what can you do for the business over the next few months? Focus on the present and the near-term future.

That’s what gets Enterprise Architects a seat at the table. That’s what gets the entire organization, and all the job functions, contributing to DT. It helps them become aligned to delivering near-term value. If you are entirely focused on delivering near-term value, you’ve achieved business agility.

Gardner: Chris, because nothing stays the same for very long, we are seeing a lot more use of cloud services. We’re seeing composability and automation. It seems like we are shifting from building to assembly.

Doesn’t that fit in well with what EAs do, focusing on the assembly and the structure around automation? That’s an abstraction above putting in IT systems and configuring them.

Reuse to remain competitive 

Armstrong: It’s ironic that the profession that’s often been coming up with the concepts and thought-leadership around reuse struggles a with how to internalize that within their organizations. EAs have been pretty successful at the implementation of reuse on an operating level, with code libraries, open-source, cloud, and SaaS.

There is no reason to invent a new method or framework. There are plenty of them out there. Better to figure out how to exploit those to competitive advantage and focus on understanding the business organization, strategy, culture, and vision -- and deliver value in the context of those.

For example, one of the common best practices in Enterprise Architecture is to create things called reference architectures, basically patterns that represent best practices, many of which can be created from existing content. If you are doing cloud or microservices, elevate that up to different types of business models. There’s a lot of good content out there from standards organizations that give organizations a good place to start.
Learn About Agile Architecture
At The Open Group July Denver Event
But one of the things that we've observed is a lot of architecture communities tend to focus on building -- as you were saying -- those reference architectures, and don't focus as much on making sure the organization knows that content exists, has been used, and has made a difference.

We have a great opportunity to connect the dots among different communities that are often not working together. We can provide that architectural leadership to pull it together and deliver great results and positive behaviors.

Gardner: Chris, tell us about Sparx Services North America. What do you all do, and how you are related to and work in conjunction with The Open Group?

Armstrong: Sparx Services is focused on helping end-user organizations be successful with Enterprise Architecture and related professions such as solution architecture and solution delivery, and systems engineering. We do that by taking advantage of the frameworks and best practices that standards organizations like The Open Group create, helping make those standards real, practical, and pragmatic for end-user organizations. We provide guidance on how to adapt and tailor them and provide support while they use those frameworks for doing real work.

And we provide a feedback loop to The Open Group to help understand what kinds of questions end-user organizations are asking. We look for opportunities for improving existing standards, areas where we might want to invest in new standards, and to accelerate the use of Enterprise Architecture best practices.

Gardner: Ryan, moving onto what's working and what's helping foster better DT, tell us what's working. In a practical sense, how is EA making those shorter-term business benefits happen?

One day at a time 

Schmierer: That’s a great question. We have talked about some of the challenges. It’s important to focus on the right path as well. So, what's working that an enterprise architect can do today in order to foster DT?

Number one, embrace agile approaches and an agile mindset in both architecture development (how you do your job) and the solutions you develop for your organizations. A good way to test whether you are approaching architecture in an agile way is the first iteration in the architecture. Can you go through the entire process of the Architecture Development Method (ADM) on a cocktail napkin in the time it takes you to have a drink with your boss? If so, great. It means you are focused on that first simple iteration and then able to build from there.

Number two, solve problems today with the components you have today. Don’t just look to the future. Look at what you have now and how you can create the most value possible out of those. Tomorrow the environment is going to change, and you can focus on tomorrow's problems and tomorrow’s challenges tomorrow. So today’s problems today.

Third, look beyond your current DT initiative and what’s going on today, and talk to your leaders. Talk to your business clients about where they need to go in the future. That goal is enterprise business agility, which is helping the company become more nimble. DT is the first step, then start looking at steps two and three.
Architects need to understand technology better, such things as new cloud services, IoT, edge computing, ML, and AI. These are going to have disruptive effects on your businesses. You need to understand them to be a trusted advisor to your organization.

Fourth, Architects need to understand technology better, such things as fast-moving, emerging technology like new cloud services, Internet of Things (IoT), edge computing, machine learning (ML), and artificial intelligence (AI) -- these are more than just buzz words and initiatives. They are real technology advancements. They are going to have disruptive effects on your businesses and the solutions to support those businesses. You need to understand the technologies; you need to start playing with them so you can truly be a trusted advisor to your organization about how to apply those technologies in business context.

Gardner: Chris, we hear a lot about AI and ML these days. How do you expect Enterprise Architects to help organizations leverage AI and ML to get to that DT? It seems really essential to me to become more data driven and analytics driven and then to re-purpose to reuse those analytics over and over again to attain an ongoing journey of efficiency and automation.

Better business outcomes 

Armstrong: We are now working with our partners to figure out how to best use AI and ML to help run the business, to do better product development, to gain a 360-degree view of the customer, and so forth.

It’s one of those weird things where we see the shoemaker’s children not having any shoes because they are so busy making shoes for everybody else. There is a real opportunity, when we look at some of the infrastructure that’s required to support the agile enterprise, to exploit those same technologies to help us do our jobs in enterprise architecture.

It is an emerging part of the profession. We and others are beginning to do some research on that, but when I think of how much time we and our clients have spent on the nuts and bolts collection of data and normalization of data, it sure seems like there is a real opportunity to leverage these emerging technologies for the benefit of the architecture practice. Then, again, the architects can be more focused on building relationships with people, understanding the strategy in less time, and figuring out where the data is and what the data means.

Obviously humans still need to be involved, but I think there is a great opportunity to eat your own dog food, as it were, and see if we can exploit those learning tools for the benefit of the architecture community and its consumers.

Gardner: Chris, do we have concrete examples of this at work, where EAs have elevated themselves and exposed their value for business outcomes? What’s possible when you do this right?

Armstrong: A lot of organizations are working things from the bottoms up, and that often starts in IT operations and then moves to solution delivery. That’s where there has been a lot of good progress, in improved methods and techniques such as scaled agile and DevOps.
But a lot of organizations struggle to elevate it higher. The DPBoK™  from The Open Group provides a lot of guidance to help organizations navigate that journey, particularly getting to the fourth level of the learning progression, which is at the enterprise level. That’s where Enterprise Architecture becomes essential. It’s great to develop software fast, but that’s not the whole point of agile solution delivery. It should be about building the right software the right way to meet the right kind of requirements -- and do that as rapidly as possible.

We need an umbrella over different release trains, for example, to make sure the organization as a whole is marching forward. We have been working with a number of Fortune 100 companies that have made good progress at the operational implementation levels. They nonetheless now are finding that particularly trying, to connect to business architecture.

There have been some great advancements from the Business Architecture Guild and that’s been influencing the TOGAF framework, to connect the dots across those agile communities so that the learnings of a particular release train or the strategy of the enterprise is clearly understood and delivered to all of those different communities.

Gardner: Ryan, looking to the future, what should organizations be doing with the Enterprise Architect role and function?

EA evolution across environments 

Schmierer: The next steps don’t just apply to Enterprise Architects but really to all types of architects. So look at the job role and how your job role needs to evolve over the next few years. How do you need to approach it differently than you have in the past?

For example, we are seeing Enterprise Architects increasingly focus on issues like security, risk, reuse, and integration with partner ecosystems. How do you integrate with other companies and work in the broader environments?

We are seeing Business Architects who have been deeply engaged in DT discussions over the last couple of years start looking forward and shifting the role to focus on how we light up real-time decision-making capabilities. Solution Architects are shifting from building and designing components to designing assembly and designing the end systems that are often built out of third-party components instead of things that were built in-house.

Look at the job role and understand that the core need hasn’t changed. Companies need Enterprise Architects and Business Architects and Solution Architects more than ever right now to get them where they need to be. But the people serving those roles need to do that in a new way -- and that’s focused on the future, what the business needs are over the next 6 to 18 months, and that’s different than what they have done in past.

Gardner: Where can organizations and individuals go to learn more about Agile Architecture as well as what The Open Group and Sparx Services are offering?

Schmierer: The Open Group has some great resources available. We have a July event in Denver focused on Agile Architecture, where they will discuss some of the latest thoughts coming out of The Open Group Architecture Forum, Digital Practitioners Work Group, and more. It’s a great opportunity to learn about those things, network with others, and discuss how other companies are approaching these problems. I definitely point them there.
Learn About Agile Architecture
At The Open Group July Denver Event
I mentioned the DPBoK™. This is a recent release from The Open Group, looking at the future of IT and the roles for architects. There’s some great, forward-looking thinking in there. I encourage folks to take a look at that, provide feedback, and get involved in that discussion.

And then Sparx Services North America, we are here to help architects be more effective and add value to their organizations, be it through tools, training, consulting, best practices, and standards. We are here to help, so feel free to reach out at our website. We are happy to talk with you and see how we might be able to help.

Gardner: I’m afraid we’ll have to leave it there. You have been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect discussion on reinforcing the relationship between Enterprise Architecture and agile businesses. And we have learned how Enterprise Architects should embrace new approaches and digital practitioner, leading-edge thinking to build competitive advantages for their companies.

So a big thank you to our guests, Ryan Schmierer, Director of Operations at Sparx Services North America. Thank you so much, Ryan.

Schmierer: Thank you, Dana.

Gardner: And thank you, too, to Chris Armstrong, President at Sparx Services North America.

Armstrong: You are more than welcome, Dana. 

Gardner: And a big thank you as well to our audience for joining this BriefingsDirect agile business innovation discussion. I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host throughout this series of BriefingsDirect discussions sponsored by The Open Group.

Thanks again for listening, please pass this along to your IT community, and do come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Download the transcript. Sponsor: The Open Group.

Transcript of a panel discussion how Enterprise Architects should embrace agile approaches to build more competitive advantage for their companies. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC and The Open Group, 2005-2019. All rights reserved.

You may also be interested in: